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Project Log:  Saturday, March 1, 2014

The main GPS antenna required some minor assembly before installation, namely installing the cable (which I'd previously led abovedecks during an earlier stage of the project), and installing a short pole mount and the required plastic base with which to secure the antenna on the mount.

I drilled and tapped the deck (in the newly epoxy-filled holes) for fasteners, then installed the antenna (already assembled to its base) in a bed of sealant.  Belowdecks, I installed fender washers and nuts, and, later, tied up the excess cable in the slim space between the overhead cleats.



On the other side, I installed the AIS antenna.  As with the GPS antenna, I'd pre-wired this one much earlier in the process, but the AIS antenna was hard-wired to its cable.  Though not long ago I'd planned on mounting this antenna on a pole riser as well, like the GPS antenna, it was not to be:  with the hard-wired aspect, there was no way to install the pole mount, and there was no way I was about to unstring the cable from below in order to lead it through.  So this one would be mounted flush to the deck, using its own gasket and four brass studs, nuts, and washers supplied for the purpose.  A little later, I tied up the excess cable beneath.


Before mounting the running light boards, I wanted to pre-install the light mounting brackets, and drill an access hole for wiring.  These lights featured a pretty neat blind bracket system, with a removable bracket (secured to the mounting surface) that the light slipped over, to be secured with a locking lever.


After some basic layout, I installed the brackets to the running light boards.  With the light in place, I marked the bottom of the light, where the wires would enter, and drilled a hole through the base for the cable directly beneath.  I did this for both sides.



On deck, I marked, drilled, and tapped the fastener holes to secure the running boards, and led the light wiring through the bases, leaving a loop, or fold, of the wire beneath the platform to grab later, and to act as strain relief so the sealant around the cable opening would remain intact.  In areas I'd be able to reach later, I installed masking tape around the bases, then installed them permanently in a bed of sealant.  To help bed the top of the fasteners where they entered the wooden platform, I added a thin layer of butyl tape beneath the washers.



I decided it'd be easier to clean up the excess sealant once it had cured, so I left it as is for now.  I also left the final wiring and light installation for later, so that my moving around the wire wouldn't compromise the sealant where it passed through the decks beneath.

In order to install, and then to later service, the running lights, I'd need to leave some excess cable, enough to allow me to lift the lights off their brackets, or about 2".  This would be relatively hidden beneath the platform as is, but to avoid seeing beneath, I thought I'd add a slim cover plate on the outside, between the bases, to hide the area.  More on this later.

Moving on, I installed the handrails, applying sealant to the three bases (per side) and using new 3-1/2" bolts, which I secured with fender washers and nuts within.





Later, I bunged the screw holes from the top.

Several of the fasteners I'd used during these installations projected a bit past the overhead support cleats, so I had to cut off the excess.  Access to several of the fasteners was tight, with wiring nearby, and this limited my options in terms of cutting off the stainless fastener ends.  After various frustrating attempts to use some of the smaller, more "controllable" tools in my collection (I'll spare you the details and the annoyances), I eventually finished up the job with a real tool, my angle grinder and a cutoff wheel, using utmost care to avoid any damage.  Not a fun little job, but at least this part of it was quick after wasting who knows how much time on the other tools.

One detail remained before I could close up the overhead again.  In the after corners was required a pair of U-bolts for some rigging wires (I guess, having never seen the boat rigged, of course).  There would not be room to hide the undersides of these fittings beneath the overhead, so I planned to run them straight through.  But first, I cut two plywood spacers, the same thickness as the overhead cleats (12mm), and installed them in the after corners with epoxy and some hot glue to clamp them.  These would fill the void between the plywood headliner and the underside of the deck.


Then I reinstalled the overhead and trim.

The locations of these U-bolts, and their original holes, were still in place above, so I carefully drilled down through, first with a smaller bit from above, then from below with a 3/8" bit (this minimized tear-out on the plywood overhead).  I installed the U-bolts (re-using the originals here, which were in good condition) in sealant from above, and installed 1-1/2" fender washers and nuts beneath.  The original installation had used some cap nuts to cover the exposed studs, but the originals were in too-ugly condition to reuse, so I planned to order a new set to finish off the studs.




Obviously this installation would preclude easy removal of the headliner, but I didn't see any ongoing need to do so, particularly at the aft end.  But if so, I'd deal with it then.  With the benefits of 20/20 hindsight, it would have been nice if I'd planned the overhead to avoid this area, and allow removal without these bolts in the way, but I didn't.  It was not an oversight that was going to keep me up at night.

It seemed somehow incredible that these ostensibly simple installations required a full day, but there you are.  Good stuff to have over and done with.


Total Time Today:  7.75 hours

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